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"Thousands have lost their lives and millions need shelter. Please consider donating for the cause to help bring relief to those who are suffering."


WHO believes earthquake disaster worse than December's tsunami
Leading international agencies believe the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Pakistan last Saturday is still being underestimated.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the calamity was bigger in scale than the tsunami that struck East Asia last year and the long-term problems created as a consequence will prove more difficult to deal with.
"The number made homeless, the destruction of roads and infrastructure and the terrain over which the catastrophe has struck make this a bigger disaster than the tsunami," Hussain A Gezairy, WHO's regional director, told journalists on Thursday at the emergency health centre set up at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).  The earthquake has destroyed more than 80 percent of structures and buildings in parts of northern Pakistan. Many cities and villages in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the most affected areas, have been wiped out. More than four million people are affected, of whom one million are in acute need of help.

More than 2 million people need to be re-housed, relief agencies say.  Gezairy said that as no roads were destroyed by the tsunami, destruction took place mainly within a few hundred metres along coastlines and it was far easier to assess the damage and plan relief.  The fact only helicopters can reach so many mountain areas and that the affected areas are so remote, makes it extremely difficult to even gauge the full-scale of the damage and determine what needs to be done first," Gezairy explained. According to the WHO, the number of health workers needed to be doubled or even tripled in some places. "There is a particularly urgent need for general practitioners with experience in emergencies and basic surgical skills. Paramedics, primary health care specialists and public health specialists, including epidemiologists, are also desperately needed," WHO said in a statement on Wednesday.

Although US $10 billion had been mobilized by the UN and world community, the WHO regional chief expressed concern that the amounts raised for tsunami victims "would not come in". Gezairy, however, stressed efforts were being made to promote more concern across the world and generate more funds. Working with the Pakistan ministry of health in the largest operation ever launched in the country, the WHO has put hundreds of experts in the field.  The teams are set to work on building early-warning systems for disease surveillance and epidemic control. For this purpose, acting on WHO advice, the Pakistan military has already set up vaccination centers for relief workers along the roads to affected areas.  The poor sanitation conditions, hundreds of dead bodies still lying unburied and severe shortages of clean drinking water have made dangers presented by disease among the top concerns of relief agencies. 

The WHO has already stated the situation seemed most alarming in major centres of destruction, particularly Muzaffarabad, Bagh and Balakot. The WHO is planning to deploy hundreds more medical staff in all affected areas to work alongside Pakistani medical teams.

Two women pulled out alive from rubbles after 72 hours
(Updated at 1900 PST)
ISLAMABAD: Two women alive were pulled out on Tuesday from rubbles of a collapsed block of the Margalla Towers after century's worst earthquake that jolted severely the region. 

The two women were identified as Khalida Begum and Mah Bibi, who remained under the rubbles for 72 and miraculously survived the tragedy. 

AOPP asks Pakistani's to donate to the earthquake victims
(Updated at 1720 PST)
New York: The Association of Pakistani Professionals [ AOPP ] has urged Pakistanis in the United States and all over the world to help in the relief effort after a powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Northern Area of Pakistan on October 8,2005. 

However, AOPP has setup earthquake relief website at http://aopp.org/eq where a list of the websites of those accepting donations for the quake victims is provided.

Syed Asif Alam, president of Association of Pakistani Professionals, said, “Our hearts are with those who have lost their loved ones and we urge the Pakistani's all over the world to unite in this national tragedy. 

"It is imperative upon all of the expatriate Pakistanis to extend our helping hand to the victims and participate by donating generously so that the relief effort continues till the last victims has received the aid.” Alam further said. 

Quake death toll feared to exceed 40,000 
(Updated at 1445 PST)
MUZAFFARABAD: Death toll in the disastrous earthquake that had struck Azad Kashmir, Frontier province and Punjab is likely to go beyond 40,000 marks, while the much needed relief works in some of the devastated areas could not yet been taken up. 

The nightmare and the huge tragedy that visited these ruined and ravaged vast areas of hills and dales and the plane lands with no exceptions and with equal severity could hardly be described as words fail to depict the real scene of that doomsday, which had befallen on the people of those areas at large--- at every step, in every street, in each village and in all the cities there was a new and all the more pensive story piercing iron in the soul. 

The enchanting streets of Azad Kashmir that used to captivate the visitors here from all over the world now lying desolate and deserted—that aroma of the sweetness in life lost into the wind—that serenity enlivening the soul no more exist instead alas, it is the heartrending stories of death and destructions that echoes and prevail everywhere. 

The decaying corpses still lying buried underneath the debris has polluted the environment and posing a threat to those also who somehow fortunately escaped the apocalypse. 

The question as to when these bodies would be taken out of the rubbles still remains unanswered. There is none to give a positive reply. Meanwhile, the helpless people kept waiting for the help. 

Muzaffarabad Assistant Commissioner, Masudur Rahman told that all the government buildings and educational institutions in the city have been razed to the ground and 11,000 dead thus far has been confirmed in Azad Kashmir alone, while with every passing day the figure jumps up by several hundreds. 

Hazara division in Frontier province stands most affected, where accessibility to Abbotabad, Mansehra and far-flung areas of Battgram district could not have been made possible as yet. The people rendered homeless here have been forced to shiver-away their cold nights in the open sky. Hundreds of students both boys and girls are still lying under the debris. Several modern villages of Mansehra have been totally leveled to the ground. Roads in Battgram are still blocked after the land sliding, which has made the relief goods reaching here difficult. Food items have been dropped through helicopters in several areas of Mansehra. 

It is not possible to assess the loss of life and property accurately at this juncture. However, the life stands totally paralyzed and traumatized due to non-availability of food, water, electricity and roads—nothing in fact is left over there for bare subsistence expect the flickering hopes in helpless gazing eyes waiting for the help and succour to come and if the messiah carrying aid remained on the way for long, then these waning light in the eyes may die down for ever.

Relief works underway in Muzaffarabad, other areas
(Updated at 1245 PST)
MUZAFFARABAD: Efforts to retrieve the bodies of those who had died in earthquake catastrophe hitting here the capital of Azad Kashmir and other areas got a shot in the arm when food items and other relief goods started pouring in here from different parts of the country.

At least 12 students from underneath the rubbles of Boys Degree College, while 4 other persons from other different locations here were pulled out alive. Besides the bodies of Azad Kashmir's Minister for social welfare, Shirin Waheed and her husband, member constituent assembly, Khan Abdul Waheed Khan were given a burial after their retrieval from under the debris. 

Pakistan Army men and the volunteers of different international organizations were seen engaged in making efforts to save lives or taking out the bodies from under the rubbles.

However, the city life here still remains entirely paralyzed as electricity and water supply could not be restored as yet, while shops and markets were no exception to the massive devastations that gave rise to an acute shortage of food and drinks all over here.

Muzaffarabad-Rawalpindi via Kohala Road and Muzaffarabad-Rawalpindi via Abbotabad Road have been cleared of all road blocks and opened for all sorts of traffic, which also facilitated a large number residents moving out from here to Rawalpindi, Islamabad and other cities of Pakistan.

Pakistan Army Jawans have also launched their relief operations in Garhi Dopatta, Hatian Bala, Chanari, Chakothi and other outskirt areas here, while the lifting of wounded persons through helicopters from here to different hospitals in Abbotabad, Murree and Rawalpindi continued in full swing. 

Medics warn of epidemic in quake-hit Muzaffarabad

(Updated at 1210 PST)
ISLAMABAD: International medical charity warned on Tuesday that there was a risk of an epidemic of water-borne disease in Muzaffarabad, the quake-devastated capital of Azad Kashmir.

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